Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Baldrighi E., Lavaleye M., Aliani S., Conversi A., Manini E. Large Spatial Scale Variability in Bathyal Macrobenthos Abundance, Biomass, a- and b-Diversity along the Mediterranean Continental Margin. In: PLoS One, vol. 9 (9) article n. e107261. PLOS, 2014.
The large-scale deep-sea biodiversity distribution of the benthic fauna was explored in the Mediterranean Sea, which can be seen as a miniature model of the oceans of the world. Within the framework of the BIOFUN project (''Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in Contrasting Southern European Deep-sea Environments: from viruses to megafauna''), we investigated the large spatial scale variability (over .1,000 km) of the bathyal macrofauna communities that inhabit the Mediterranean basin, and their relationships with the environmental variables. The macrofauna abundance, biomass, community structure and functional diversity were analysed and the a-diversity and b-diversity were estimated across six selected slope areas at different longitudes and along three main depths. The macrobenthic standing stock and a-diversity were lower in the deep-sea sediments of the eastern Mediterranean basin, compared to the western and central basins. The macrofaunal standing stock and diversity decreased significantly from the upper bathyal to the lower bathyal slope stations. The major changes in the community composition of the higher taxa and in the trophic (functional) structure occurred at different longitudes, rather than at increasing water depth. For the b-diversity, very high dissimilarities emerged at all levels: (i) between basins; (ii) between slopes within the same basin; and (iii) between stations at different depths; this therefore demonstrates the high macrofaunal diversity of the Mediterranean basins at large spatial scales. Overall, the food sources (i.e., quantity and quality) that characterised the west, central and eastern Mediterranean basins, as well as sediment grain size, appear to influence the macrobenthic standing stock and the biodiversity along the different slope areas.
URL: http://|www.plosone.org
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107261
Subject macrofauna
Mediterranean Sea

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